[Met Performance] CID:164770

La Bohème
Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, February 1, 1954

Review 1:

Review signed J. L. in Musical America

After hearing Jussi Björling's Faust with mixed emotions earlier in the season it was a benediction to witness his return to the Metropolitan in this performance following a month's vacation in Sweden. This was the Björling's of old, not of last November but of years ago, with solid, sustained highs and beauteous security right down the line. From the moment he opened his mouth the sound was as molten silver, unalloyed, spun out into lines of liquid loveliness. Nowhere did Mr. Björling's betray a moment's strain. Not for a long time have I heard such a well-sung Rodolfo; nor had the audience, on the evidence of one of the most prolonged ovations in recent Metropolitan history. It was a grand comeback. One prays that Mr. Björling's will be able to consolidate the gains of his recuperation, and that they will continue to be manifest.

This was Mr. Björling's first Rodolfo of the season. It was also Licia Albanese's first Mimi and Cesare Siepi's first Colline. Miss Albanese, who was forced to cancel an appearance in "La Traviata" last week on account of a cold, apparently had not entirely recovered. Her Mimi was unusually restrained, both vocally and dramatically. Like the artist she is, however, Miss Albanese was able to scale her portrayal to whatever resources were at her command, so that her touchingly pathetic characterization was an effective complement to Mr. Björling's impassioned Rodolfo. Mr. Siepi was an impressive Colline in every way. The remaining principals were as usual: Jean Fenn was a realistically hoydenish Musetta, Robert Merrill a superior Marcello, Gerhard Pechner a hilarious Benoit, and George Cehanovshy a dependable Schaunard. The others were James McCracken, Alessio De Paolis and Algerd Brazis. Alberto Erede conducted in extremely leisurely fashion.

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